Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones that happens naturally as we age. It is often called the “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without any symptoms. It is much easier to diagnose and treat Osteoporosis than trying to reverse bone loss once it has occurred. Osteoporosis is preventable and treatable. Determine your level of bone density in a fast, precise way using a DXA scan.
How is Osteoporosis detected?
Bone densitometry, using an advanced technology called DXA (Dual Energy x-ray Absorbtiometry), safely, accurately and painlessly measures bone mineral density, which helps determine a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis and future fractures. The Bone Densitometer uses small amounts of x-ray to produce images of the lumbar spine and hip. The forearm may also be imaged, but the standard procedure is to image the lumbar spine and hip. The x-ray is composed of two energy levels which are absorbed differently by the bones in the body. A computer is able to determine from these differences how much bone mineral density is present.
What is IVA?
Bone densitometry with an additional capability called Instant Vertebral Assessment (IVA) produces an x-ray of the entire spine for the assessment of vertebral (spine) fractures. IVA is basically a rapid (10 second), low-dose x-ray scan of the spine, taken in combination with a standard bone density test. With IVA, doctors can see existing vertebral fractures, which may indicate the need for more aggressive treatment, even if bone density results are in the “normal” range.
Prior to IVA, a patient suspected of having a vertebral fracture would be referred for a conventional spine x-ray. This often requires a separate office visit; exposure to higher doses of radiation; and additional time for processing and reviewing the x-ray film. With IVA, the spine scan is performed in conjunction with a bone density test, during the same appointment, at 1/100th of the radiation dose, and the results are immediately available for the doctor’s review. In this way, your doctor can provide a more thorough assessment of your bone health, quickly and conveniently.
What are the benefits of having a DXA scan?
- It is a simple and proven x-ray method.
- It is safe with low radiation exposure.
- It is fast and comfortable, and takes only 15 minutes.
- It is easy. Patient remains clothed.
- It is painless and non-invasive. No injection is required.
How do I prepare for a DXA scan?
- Unless instructed otherwise, eat normally on the day of the DXA scan; but avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sweat suits and other casual attire without zippers, buttons, grommets or any metal are preferred.
- You should not have had a barium study, radioisotope injection, oral or intravenous contrast material from a CT scan or MRI within seven days prior to your DXA test.
What to expect during a DXA scan?
During a comprehensive examination with DXA, you lay comfortably still on a padded table while the DXA unit scans two or more areas, usually the fracture-prone hip and spine.
Unlike typical x-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low – less than the radiation exposure during a coast-to-coast airline flight. The entire process takes only 15 minutes to complete, depending on the number of sites scanned. It involves no injections or invasive procedures, and you remain fully clothed.
What to expect after getting a DXA scan?
The DXA system produces test results instantly. Along with information you provide about your family and medical history, lifestyle and diet, the data derived from the DXA test will be used by your physician to help determine whether you are at high, increased or low risk of fracture. Based on this information, your physician can decide whether you would benefit from additional therapy. Bone Mineral Density (BMD) is calculated and compared to normal BMD values, matched for age and sex. A low BMD by DXA may predict the likelihood of Osteoporosis and fracture and can help determine a treatment plan.